For Now, And Who Knows For How Long, Dallas County Is Good and Shut Down

I called over to the Dallas County Commissioners Court a few minutes ago to get an update on clean-up efforts at the Records Building, which flooded last night following a water main break. Good thing I called too: Peggy Lundy in County Judge Jim Foster's office said she's just about to start calling the media to alert us to a 4 p.m. press conference with, among others, Foster, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and Commissioners Court Administrator Darryl Martin.

At that press conference, they will tell the media what I'm about to tell you: Dallas County is taking an extra-long holiday weekend. As in: Until the Records Building can be cleared of water -- and, right now, Martin tells Unfair Park, they're still three-feet-deep over there -- Dallas County is off-line and, for all intents and purposes, shut down. No courts, no tax offices, no criminal checks during traffic stops. Pretty much, no nothing.

Martin says, look, there are no critical operations in the basement, nor are there significant records being stored down there -- just "an old generator and boxes of documents from the auditor's office." The problem is all of the county's mainframe and its servers, including those powering its Web site, are on the fifth floor, but till the basement's good and dried out, power will remain off in the Records Building. Slowing up the clean-up is sludge that's having to be manually removed. Meaning: Nothing's doing for several days.

"But we're working around the clock," says Martin, who acknowledges that, yes indeed, that '08 audit warning of the need to get a backup plan in place pronto was right on the money.

"I don't know if you saw it, but we had on the agenda just last week that we need to do a continuity of operations plan," Martin says. "We got the grant" through the Department of Homeland Security," he says, "but this is something we should have done a long time ago. This is something I noticed when I first got here: We had no backup plan. Fortunately, I don't think we'll be down that long."

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